Authenticity

shorties

3 Weekend Shorties: Words To Make You Pause and Smile

Today’s Shorties are not my own words but they spoke to me and so I’m sharing for your reading pleasure as well.

It’s Thanksgiving Week in the USA. We’re blanketed here with multi-layers of seasonal gratitude, family drama, and Black Friday sales notifications. 😲

So just like a couple of fish tacos washed down with a margarita would be a welcome respite after all the turkey and pumpkin pie, I thought these three Shorties would be a welcome break for your spirit! 🌟

The first one is a sweet reminder, the second is a soulful nudge, and the third? Well, it made ME laugh—so I say it’s a gentle chuckle! 😁

Refill your mug with your favorite beverage 🍺 (I won’t judge) —and enjoy!

shorties
los muertos crew | pexels

Shortie #1 | who are you really?

you are not a name

or a height, or a weight

or a gender

you are not an age

and you are not where you are from

 

you are your favorite books

and the songs stuck in your head

you are your thoughts

and what you eat for breakfast

on Saturday mornings

you are a thousand things

but everyone chooses

to see the million things 

you are not

you are not

where you are from

you are

where you are going

and I’d like

to go there

too

—mk | bella GRACE

shortie
fauxels | pexels

Shortie #2 | What Is Heaven?

Once upon a time there was a woman who longed to find out what heaven is like. She prayed constantly, “O God, grant me in this life a vision of paradise.”

She prayed in this way for years until one night she had a dream. An angel came and led her to heaven. They walked down a street in paradise until they came to an ordinary looking house. The angel said, “Go look inside.”

So the woman walked in and found a person preparing supper, another reading the newspaper, and children playing with their toys. She was disappointed and returned to the angel on the street.

“Is this all there is to heaven?”

The angel replied, “Those people you saw in that house are not in paradise, paradise is in them!”

—Edward Hayes, Feathers on the Wind

thanksgiving day funny
pixabay | pexels

Shortie #3 | A Pilgrim's Tale

He entered sheepishly and knelt at his wife’s bedside.

“Priscilla dearest, she meant nothing to me! Can you ever forgive me?”

She was flushed. “Yes, John. Love is forgiveness.”

“Angel!” He kissed her forehead, grabbed his musket, and left, slamming the front door.

Priscilla leaned over the bed’s edge to peer beneath.

“Miles!” she beckoned.

—Curt Homan, The World’s Shortest Stories

shorties

However you’re spending this weekend, take time to recalibrate.

It’s easy to get caught up in the seasonal hustle. Which is where these little Shorties, or #CoffeeBreakStories come to the rescue. Who doesn’t welcome a 1-2 minute diversion? 

Circle back here  or here to sample a few prior #CoffeeBreakStories. 

~.~.~.~.~.~.

Your turn:

  • Which was your favorite?
  • What’s going on with your weekend?

You can send your thoughts to me right here: maryv@shiftyourstories.com

…And thanks for dropping by! 🙋🏻‍♀️

new season

Clearing Space For A New Season

The last quarter of the year can be an ideal time to make room in your closet for something different. Unless you live where the weather rarely changes, a new season usually heralds clearing space to accommodate changing temperatures.

Yet regardless of your particular climate, periodically clearing space in your wardrobe for what truly supports your lifestyle—especially as it evolves—will serve you well.

Now I’m not suggesting a full-on, pull-everything-out-and-dump-on-your-bed activity. Even I feel exhausted with the thought of that! 😜

However, consider taking 5-10 minutes daily to pull out anything that is an obvious “let-it-go” item, i.e., stained, torn, ill-fitting, or simply never-worn clothing. You know the ones! Bag ’em up and let ’em go!

Starting with these small, steady tweaks will reap big benefits. After all, it’s too easy to stash and store far more than what is actually needed or used. And who remembers to exercise the one-in-one-out rule every time, when there’s room for one more? (not me! 😬)

In fact, as we buy new things, the stuff we rarely wear gets pushed to the back. It can be difficult to see what’s in there. Ever come across something hidden and say, “Oh, wow, I forgot I had this!” And then struggle to let it go? (also me! 🙄) 

Then, when it gets difficult and you’re slowing down with letting go decisions, pivot to choosing what you want to keep. Lastly, figure out what you will add in for your new season. 

Today I’m sharing 3 questions I ask myself as I decide what deserves space in my closet.  

Got your pumpkin spice latte in hand? ☕️  Let’s go!

clearing space
image by pavel danilyuk from pexels

#1: How Do I Spend My Time?

This is my opening question before I even set foot in my closet. Why? Because a supportive wardrobe is one reflecting how I actually spend my time. Once I exited the corporate world, I needed to flip the clothing ratio from less formal to more laidback.

And let me tell you, it’s HOT 😳 from May through September in my part of the world! Yes, I knew this when I relocated to Phoenix, but it didn’t fully register when my weekdays called for business attire inside an air conditioned office. (Still, hardly anyone wears hose here because of that relentless heat 🔥)

Travels near and far have amped up and socializing continues. So I still have clothing for different situations…dressy, casual, warm and cool temps.  However, the quantities of each category have changed because how I spend my time has shifted.

Acknowledging what clothing makes sense now is essential for knowing what to keep and what to buy—in all the right quantities!

clearing space
image by anastasia shuraeva from pexels

#2: What Styles And Colors Do I Favor?

Here’s a novel way to sort through your closet: start by segregating what you love and reach for the most.

When it comes to clearing out your closet, everyone agrees there’s stuff that oughta go. But the second thing that crosses our minds? The weight and work of executing those choices! 😣 After all, there is a reason for why each and every thing is in your wardrobe right now. Still, the reasons are not equally important or valid. So sift through mindfully.

Yet when purging stuff gets hard, stop and switch to easy! Now focus on your Keepers. A rolling rack is ideal for hanging all your faithful clothing companions. (It also comes in handy when preparing for an upcoming event or  trip ✈️ ) Now you can clearly see what you wear the most. Go with your first instincts and don’t overthink things.

Then step back and look for the common thread with your besties. My guess is that these are the items that feel the most comfortable, they’re the ones most suited to the majority of your activities, and the color or cut truly looks the best for your body type and taste.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a particular color palette, fabric, or style! When you’re drawn to certain items that you love and they love you back, why deviate? No one is going to think you’re wearing the same thing over and over. On the contrary, their impression will be that you always look good—really!

What you’re doing here is identifying a personal capsule wardrobe that will never let you down. 

shop smarter
image by andrea piacquadio from pexels

#3: What should I buy in a new season?

Lastly, think about what you’ve struggled to release while clearing space. I’m specifically referring to the “second stringers”, or items that are in perfectly good condition yet you’ve rarely worn them. Why is that? 🤔

These are often the items that were touted as the current It style. They  looked fab on the lanky model. They were the latest new hue. All the stores stocked a variation of them. And once we peeked at them online, ads followed us everywhere, urging us to buy them.

So why did they not get out closet much? Well for me, they didn’t end up flattering my body type, they weren’t my go-to power colors, or I just didn’t have enough occasions (or the right events) to wear them! 🤯

This is a huge revelation, for a few important reasons:

Firstly, I have since learned to pay attention to what looks good on shorter models or celebrities with a more athletic build like me. What drapes elegantly on a 6-foot willowy model does not necessarily flatter for me. 

Secondly, everything I admire is not practical for me to acquire. I adore sheath dresses, silk blouses, and high heels. But the opportunities to wear them are far and few between. I have a discreet number of these in my closet and I’ve drawn the line at buying more. Only window shopping allowed! 😍 (bonus: my bank account says thank you!)

And thirdly, I want to break the twitch with buying new things solely because I’m told what to wear each season. Who want to see themselves coming and going because we’re all wearing a variation of the same thing? Why must last season’s It items stop looking good simply because the fashion gurus say something different is better?

For me, a true sense of style develops when someone is aware of what best suits their taste and lifestyle and they happily and unashamedly stick with that.

clearing space

The Wrap On Clearing Space

Our lifestyle and taste changes over time so why not ensure our wardrobe reflects where we’re at now?

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to know that everything in your closet fits, flatters, and feels good? (the 3 “F’s” = my guiding mantra 🌟)

It would be like possessing a magic portal to a place filled with items we love and love us back, in all the right quantities. Our entire clothing collection would actually get a spin out on the town.

Well, perfection is not  possible so relax. But we can elevate what’s in there when we are willing to regularly evaluate the contents. Make the smart decisions about what makes sense to keep, to release, and–going forward–what we should buy less of (I know, that last one is critical—sigh! 👠👠)

No one has infinite storage space and even those with super-sized closets benefit from culling out what no longer matters. Why cling to non-performers, amiright? 🤗

If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll find value in this one, which goes even deeper with clearing space for a new you!

And do check out these stellar Tedx Talks:

🎧 You Can Be A Minimalist. Yes, You!

🎧  Change Your Closet, Change Your Life!

🎧 The Link Between Personal Style & Identity

—And thanks for stopping by!

step

Stepping Back Can Be A Step In The Right Direction

#CoffeeBreakStory: Taking Stock When Stepping Back

Happy September! 🍁 Like our ever-so-cultured European friends, I was on hiatus most of August. Actually, I started stepping back in mid-July, when we packed the RV and headed North on a road trip to Colorado. We were seeking cooler temps and different scenery. Turns out, I was also ISO a mindset reset. 🤪

My mini retreat was overdue. Per usual, I was focused on lofty goals at full bore, until they felt elusive and too much to pursue. The thrill was gone. As my discomfort increased, I worked my way into a rut without realizing it until I got stuck.

So stepping back meant no writing and (almost) no social media. I amassed endless travel photos and videos out of habit but few made an appearance on IG. I just didn’t have the energy to post on the “TikTok Wannabe” platform. Infinite reels made my eyes cross and I resented the excess time needed to find familiar, friendly faces. I was likely hidden, as well, so why bother? 🤷🏻‍♀️ 

Time off was incredibly healing on a number of levels. Now I’m easing my way back in, even though what lies ahead remains somewhat undefined. However, just getting back into motion can be instrumental for landing on what’s next. And if nothing else, I’ve also sussed out some of what it’s not going to be, which is equally useful.

Today I’m musing about what prompted a pause. I’ll be sharing more in future stories about the revelations uncovered along the way. This story is a little longer than others but clarity of purpose is a big topic. That’s why I’m breaking it into a short series, to keep the #coffeebreakstory somewhere between a Short and a Venti ☕️. So freshen yours up and here we go!

stepping back

¿ Midlife Crisis Maybe ?

To be honest, it felt like a second “identity crisis” was unfolding this year. (Yes, overachiever that I am, one wasn’t enough 😅)

If you’re new, here’s a quick 1-2-3 recap: my first one descended at age 53 when an unexpected corporate restructuring set me loose in 2016. Ambition was engraved in my work DNA genes, so it was a rude awakening to figure out my next move.  “Lady of Leisure” was not the new role I sought.

First, I grappled with the realization that relocating for this consuming career had left me fairly friendless in my new city, as I shared over here.

Second, I eagerly accepted an invitation for a road trip (I sense a 🚘 theme here, you?) with my former interior designer. She wanted a companion for a consultation with a new client in Ojai, California.

We bonded famously with our dry wit, passion for home design, and taste for aged tequila. When we returned, we built a small business. Our downsizing service was a time and labor intensive model but it filled a serious gap in the older adult community.

Third, I ultimately shuttered those doors permanently on the heels of Covid-19. It was time to use just my words, from the comfort of my own home. Which meant I pivoted to virtual coaching. And then once more to publishing my first book! 📕

Phew–that was a busy time! 😤 

stepping back

Stepping Back Clues

While I learned a lot about myself along the way, my energy and enthusiasm started waning in 2022.

For me, the tell-tale signs for stepping back included:

  1. An infrequent sense of anxiety (Remember that feeling when you didn’t study for an exam?! 😨) 
  2. General irritability with both myself and others (Inner Perfectionist rearing her nit-picky head! 😈)
  3. Discontent with my until-now perfectly lovely routine (I need a new project! 😞)
  4. Uncertainty with what to do next (Imma stuck … 😣)

It’s so unpleasant to find myself at these crisis crossroads again. Just when I thought I had my life figured out —surprise, not yet! 🤡   

Sigh—back to the drawing board!

time to grow

Here I Grow Again !

A friend recently suggested my angst is perhaps because I’m turning 60 this month. Hmmm…🤔…don’t think so…

The decade that I dreaded most (so far) was turning 40. It just seemed to define “The Official Start of Old Age” 🤣. Little did I know at 39 that I would still feel vibrant and remain active 20 years later.

I’m actually thrilled that my younger self was wrong about 60. To be sure, I’m oldish and well past my halfway point but I don’t feel old. I mostly feel wiser. More comfortable in my own skin.

And I’m in good company, with all the “50 is the new 40” declarations which started circulating several years ago. For good reason, I might add: We have a “third act” waiting to unfold!  

A couple years ago, I envisioned my third act would be as an author. I’ve always enjoyed writing. Once I started, it felt quite natural. Even when it’s work to find the right words and the edits are endless, I love it. And out of all the people who say they want to write a book some day—I did it! 🌟 Go, me!

I’m thrilled that my book has enjoyed moderate success. 2021 was a whirlwind of sharing it on podcasts, in local newspapers, with book clubs and in little free libraries. It’s available in both E-book and paperback with major retailers. 

But for wider commercial reach, the self-promotion can’t ever stop. The show must go on. And on. Ohh, I hates that I do! 😖 So cringey for me. I got burned out. I stopped. Can’t I just write? (apparently not)

Also, maybe I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed with decluttering after all. Maybe it was all just a metaphor for clearing space in my own life. Making room for more changes. For something new. Maybe I’ll write another book about something completely different. Or not…whoa! 🤯 

And just like that, I knew it was time for a pause. Time to start pruning old branches for new growth to occur. 🌺

trimester

Prepping for What's Next

When one chapter is ending and another is waiting to begin, stepping back is how I re-discover relevancy.

Simply going about my ordinary household routine, I’m giving my overworked brain a rest. Repetitive tasks like laundry or meal prepping are mindlessly comforting. So is lightly decluttering closets and drawers (it never ends). Or puttering in my garden. Or playing my favorite daily NYT games and puzzles.

In fact, my right shoulder had been aching for some time, too. Sitting at my desk, hunched over my keyboard for hours was partly to blame. I also don’t discount the mental overload manifesting as pain in my body, as well. Which is why bingeing on streaming services felt entirely justified. Afternoon matinees 🎥 on the couch with my dogs dozing next to me? Glorious!

In other words, I leaned in and savored present day real life moments and tiny pleasures. I dialed down the incessant noise of social media. Sure, I continued to keep up with current affairs. But anything that urged me to Be Big, Be Busy or Be Known? Hard pass! 🚫 

I’m not saying I’ll never resume engagement with social media. But I’m not falling deep down that rabbit hole again. It’s too easy to succumb to its infinite demands on my time, energy, and attention. I’ve made peace with saying, “No, thank you—that’s not for me. I’ll pop on and off when it works for me!” 

Instead, I’m focused on how I want to show up in my third act. 🧐 Breaking the twitch with a corporate identity is quite an adjustment. It seems I’m a “leetle” hard-wired for productivity. 

Friends my age confide that they would love being home full-time if they didn’t rely on their current gig or paycheck. I’m blessed that I’m not tethered to that.

But I do need to be creating or building something. I’m not a “Lady Who Lunches” kinda gal. Which is why I feel restless. Redundant. I need more to justify my presence. 

And so I’m pondering how to wield my skills once again. It’s not about making money, It’s about making a difference. Being useful outside my household.  Connecting with others to encourage and lift each other up. This could translate into so many different things but you get the idea.

More to come!

clearing space

The Wrap on Stepping Back

I’m not yearning for retirement years filled only with leisure. I’m sure that’s ideal for some but I’m just not there yet.

Shifting into a new life chapter is not always an easy transition. It can take some kicking, resisting, and soul searching. Throw in some sleepless nights and general angst, too. It all makes sense, when you consider that there’s a change in one’s identity occurring, too.

But the older I get, the better I am with recognizing when it’s time for something else. And so far, it’s been my experience that a new life chapter is always worth the effort it takes to turn the page and start writing a new script!

Does any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear…and thanks for stopping by!

Other Resources for your enjoyment

***A sublime meditative poem for your listening pleasure!

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mixing up midlife podcast

***Terri and Melissa, of Mixing Up Midlife are back from their own summer break! Head here to catch up!

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authenticity

Authenticity Means Making Mischief, Mayhem, and Mistakes—Wheee!

“The authentic self is soul made visible.” —Sarah Ban Breathnach

authenticity
Author feeling frisky at Praza do Obradoiro, in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

S.W.S.W.S.W.N.

Which means:

Some Will, Some Won't, So What? Next!

Mischief, mayhem, and mistakes: What could go wrong? How about what could go right!

authenticity
Mary V in her beloved Sonoran Desert, Carefree, Arizona

The Wrap On Authenticity

Browsing through my photos from a visit to the culmination of the Camino pilgrimage in Spain provided the prompt for this story. The combination of both sacred and playful moments on my journey was exhilarating!

For an approach I use to unleash courage and curiosity, try this.

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